The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (KHI) is one of the oldest research institutions dedicated to the History of Art and Architecture in Italy, where facets of European, Mediterranean and global history are subject to scrutiny.
Founded in 1897 on the private initiative of a group of independent scholars, it has been under the auspices of the Max Planck Society since 2002. Approximately sixty scholars are currently employed at the Institute, which is run by two directors, and the promotion of international young scientists and academics is high on its internal agenda. In addition to numerous individual research projects, those funded by third parties and a multiplicity of international collaboration with universities, museums and research institutes, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz provides a platform for larger long- and medium-term projects whose subject matter ranges from Late Antiquity to the Modern Age. The Institute's resources, including the library with over 310,000 volumes, some of which are extremely rare, 1,000 ongoing journal subscriptions, and one of the most wide-ranging photographic libraries on Italian art, are placed at the disposal of researchers from all over the world. With its programme of public academic events and up to 100 visitors daily, the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is a unique, open platform for lively, international and interdisciplinary academic exchange.
The library's books were removed by the Germans during World War II. After the war, many of the major collections looted from Italy were identified by the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives service of the American military government and returned to their owners. The Collegio Rabbinico Italiano, the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, and the Deutsche Historische Bibliothek Rom were all returned, although not all were intact, to their owners in Italy. “These last two collections were seized by Hitler with the idea of re-establishing them in Germany.”
There is a photograph in the National Archives and Records Administration showing the unloading of some of these re-captured books. The caption reads: “The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Library, is being unloaded at the Offenbach Archival Depot 9 July 1945. Three freight cars, 578 cases of books and catalogs of paintings, were brought from the Heilbronn salt mine in Württemburg-Baden where they were kept since brought from Italy.”
^Posté, Leslie. 1948. “Books Go Home” Library Journal. December 1, 1948, page 1704.
^Pomrenze, Seymour. The records of the Offenbach Collecting Point for books and library collections are in the Ardelia Hall Collection, Boxes 250-262, OMGUS, Record Group 260, National Archives at College Park, MD.